Lessons in Peace with Nobel Peace Prize Winners in Dutch Schools

For Immediate Release


Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi will visit the Netherlands, and on Wednesday September 21st, the International Day of Peace, she will announce her nomination for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Utrecht, the Netherlands, September 21st , 2016.  Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi will visit the Netherlands this week to launch the award-winning PeaceJam program in schools throughout the country. And on the International Day of Peace, Wednesday September 21st, she will announce her nomination for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for the two founders of the PeaceJam program: Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Engle. The announcement will be made at the PeaceJam launch event for high school students at the Amadeus Lyceum in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She will also announce the start of an intensive collaboration to bring the PeaceJam program to all countries of Europe over the next ten years, in partnership with the Belgium based Universal Education Foundation.

“I have worked closely with the PeaceJam Foundation for thirteen years now and I am amazed by the scope of their work,” said Shirin Ebadi. “This year, the PeaceJam Foundation is embarking on a new initiative designed to be carried out in each member nation of the European Union. The goal is to create bonds of friendship and respect, support and a shared identity.  I am very excited to see the transformative PeaceJam program being used in this powerful new way.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams also discussed the PeaceJam European Initiative in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama held in Brussels, Belgium, on September 10th, as part of a PeaceJam launch event in that country. “The Nobel Peace Laureates on the PeaceJam Foundation’s board are very committed to working in Europe today,” Williams said. “The recent terrorist attacks, the increase in all kinds of extremism, the lack of hope and opportunity for youth, and the on-going refugee crisis make Europe vulnerable and in need of new solutions.”

The two Founders of this initiative are the Universal Education Foundation, conveners of the Learning for Well Being community in Europe and the Middle East, and the PeaceJam Foundation, which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary.  Shirin Ebadi, Jody Williams and the Dalai Lama are all members of the board of the PeaceJam Foundation. The goal of the ten year European Initiative is to unleash the potential of young people to create a better world for everyone.

More than one million youth have participated in the comprehensive, year-long PeaceJam programme since it was created twenty years ago. Engagement in the PeaceJam programme has led to safer behavioural choices, acceptance of diversity, reduction in violence, and better integration of diverse school communities. For example, Barr’s Hill school in Coventry in the UK which has engaged with PeaceJam since 2006, reports better integration of refugee and ethnic minority children, dramatic reduction in poor/disengaged behaviour amongst those who follow the programme, and children reporting better life choices overall.

“We believe that young people themselves can be the solution to the problem, modeling the acceptance, respect, and collective action for the common good that will help to build a collective citizenship based upon European values,” said Ivan Suvanjieff, Co-Founder and President of the PeaceJam Foundation.

Daniel Kropf, Executive Vice Chair of the Universal Education Foundation said: “I believe in the work of PeaceJam because I trust that only the younger generations will be able to shift paradigms from a GDP oriented society to one that supports the fulfillment of each and everyone’s unique potential. This will happen when we start treating each other with respect and curiosity no matter what age, when we embrace mutual learning, and when adults and young people partner in all endeavours.”

PeaceJam’s educational programme draws upon the lives, experiences and moral example of the thirteen leading Nobel Peace Laureates that form PeaceJam’s global governing board. No other peace education organisation has the ongoing and personal involvement of such world-recognised role models. The Laureates’ lives demonstrate that a person may feel a deep sense of injustice in a situation, but can choose a non-violent response, even after they have been personally harmed or victimised.

Through the PeaceJam programme, the Nobel Peace Laureates provide an inspiration for young people as they work to address the issues they are most passionate about, and as they also face the challenges of inclusion and integration. The themes represented by the Laureates are wide-ranging, covering the kinds of issues that can drive resentment and violence between communities, or, alternatively, become spurs for rights-based, inclusive and non-violent social action. The path of non-violence espoused by these Nobel Laureates teaches young people how to become positive agents of change in their own communities, using proven non-violent tactics and techniques.

“As we launch this initiative in the Netherlands and in Belgium, we hope to impact hundreds of thousands of young people ages 6 to 21 and young adults ages 22 to 30 through Belgian schools, youth organizations, universities, and faith-based organizations,” said Dawn Engle, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the PeaceJam Foundation.

Shirin Ebadi is the first Muslim woman to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. She received the prize in 2003, for her efforts for democracy and human rights, focusing especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children. The full text of her 2017 Nobel Peace Prize nomination letter is attached.

The PeaceJam Foundation, which has been nominated 9 times for the Nobel Peace Prize, is a member of the Universal Education Foundation’s Learning for Well Being Community, whose vision and mission include promoting inclusive and supportive societies through the discovery of one’s unique potential while placing well-being at the centre of all action.

Cedric Chambers

Related Articles